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“Isn’t it enough that we are all looking after her? We are doing all her chores. Can you imagine that the men of the household are doing her seva? She is blessed to have us, Didi.”
Almost a week….and Sushanto Da hadn’t delivered water jars. Nor was he answering the phone. Scrolling down the contact list, I found another number of his and promptly placed a call.
After a few rings, a voice answered.
“My father is not at home.” The call gets disconnected.
An hour later Sushanto Da calls back. He speaks in hushed tones.
“Can’t hear you, Dada. Can you be louder?”
“Didi, I can’t deliver water. You see Corona has entered my home.”
“Who has it?”
He refuses to tell me. After much pestering, he confides. “My wife. She has it.”
“Did all of you test?”
“Yes, we did. Everyone else is negative.”
“How is she doing?”
“Not good. She is having fits. Her jaw gets locked. And she starts shaking badly. I have to put a spoon between her teeth. And… and…she is having difficulty in breathing.”
“What? Have you shown her a doctor?”
“Yes. Yes. You know Dr. Mollick? He has given medicines.”
“But he is a quack. Take her to the hospital, Dada.”
“Na na Didi. I can’t. Everyone will come to know.”
“How does it matter?”
“I can’t take the risk. People will treat us as an outcast. We will also lose our income.”
“But that’s momentary. Your wife’s life is precious.”
“I think she will live. Don’t worry.”
“She needs a good doctor. And a hospital. I can help you with the bed and money.”
“Didi, we have been married for many years now. My sons are all grown-up now. Both are adults. I….I can’t spend much on her now.”
That is where it boils down. A wife past her prime. Grown-up sons who no longer need a mother to bring them up. A husband who doesn’t need a wife to run the home anymore. A husband who finds the wife a burden. Maybe get the son married and bring another woman to run the show.
Sushanto Da also tells me that his children are his future. And no way can he compromise it. The wife falls into the category of the unwanted.
I kept insisting that the woman should at least get a chance to live.
“Isn’t it enough that we are all looking after her? One of us is always home to look after her. We are doing all her chores. Can you imagine that the men of the household are doing her seva? She is blessed to have us, Didi.”
Thankfully, a call today assured me that the woman is doing better.
COVID has once again exposed the harsh realities of life. And it’s across all strata.
A friend and her family are afflicted with the virus. Their condition worsened soon. Two beds in two different hospitals were found. The woman chose the lesser known hospital while the husband got admitted in a reputed, multi-specialty hospital.
She told me later on, “He needs better care. I was ready to give up mine for him. At least he will get to live for the kids. My absence won’t be missed much.”
This made me think. It has always been expected that women will compromise and then sacrifice their good for the sake of her family. Even during illness, the mandate remains the same. Also the status of being the inferior sex is something that has come down for ages and continues to be glorified by the woman herself.
“My absence won’t be missed.” That itself speaks volumes about our position in the society. If I haven’t been able to create an identity for myself, then I am a failure. Isn’t it time that we took stock of our status and then take it to better heights?
The constant urge to make ourselves feel as a lesser human being in comparison to our male counterparts and accepting compromises or the urge to sacrifice should be driven out of our system.
Raise your status, dear women. You are in no way inferior. Build an identity for yourself. You cannot be someone’s wife, someone’s daughter or mother. Create your worth. And do not underestimate it ever.
Image source: a still from the film Ramprasad ki Tehravi
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Sreemati Sen Karmakar holds a Masters in Social Work (MSW) From Visva Bharati, Shantiniketan. She
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